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Post by Archer on Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:31 am

Present scenario of crisis
• Demand supply gap
• Counter measures

Reasons of energy crisis
• Unrealistic plans and improper implementation
• Failure of introducing new projects
• Underutilization of resources
• Circular debt
• International oil prices
• Provincial prejudices
• Water shortage
• Transmission losses
• Power wastage
• Theft of electric power
• Accelerating demand
• Minimal research/exploration

Immediate efforts/goals
• RPPs
• Stabilizing industrial sector
• Limiting commercial supply hours

Short term goals
• Reviving non functional power plants
• Revamping transmission system
• Thar coal project
• IPI gas pipeline project
• Alternate/renewable energy sources

Long term goals
• Conforming foreign policy and energy needs
• New dams
• Transparency
• Efficient techniques and usage
• Measures against power theft

Energy crisis in transportation sector
• Biofuels/synfuels
• Standard of public transport system

• Lack of will and implementation
• Corruption and malpractices
• Trust deficit

“It is evident that the fortune o f the world’s human populations, for better or for worse, are inextricably interrelated with the use that is made of energy resources.”

The nexus between economic prosperity and self sufficiency in energy has become essentially vital for Pakistan. Today the energy crisis looming before us is the culmination of a long list of governmental failures, malpractices along with inefficient ways of consumption and a perpetually fragile economy. The futility of apparent counter measures can be attributed to slow or non existent exploration and exploitation of new resources; outdated administrative and technical systems; lack of tactful diplomacy at international level, all requiring immediate attention.

Presently, the demand-supply gap in the energy sector has reached one of its highest in the country. This gap subsequently produced huge shortage of power that has adversely affected the economy. The crippling economy was further damaged when many industrial units had to be shut down, rendering thousands jobless.

Consequently, this on going chain of crises is accelerating inflation. The government has intended to counter it with Rental Power Plants (RPPs) like the previous IPPs and to ease the burden on common man the authorities claim to be providing continuous subsidies in the power sector.

However, the constant trust deficit on the part of masses is not only due to the transparency issue of RPPs, it is majorly due to a constant increase in power failures and shortage, revealing an increase in the crisis instead of signs of recovery.

If we take a look at the factors contributing to this enormous problem, the first and foremost one comes out to be the absence of any long term planning along with constant application of such plans.

Sadly, the failures of previous governments to increase the supply of energy by new measures against the escalating demand are glaringly obvious. Small scale projects like the Ghazi barotha only put a temporary halt to the arriving crisis instead of nipping it in the bud.

Secondly, the under utilization of available resources- especially hydroelectric one which can produce double the energy it is producing now- is another major setback. The government again fails or neglects to consider the shortages in winter and up-gradation of the hydroelectric and the thermal plants regularly.

Thirdly, the ‘circular debt’ is like an invisible impediment subtly fuelling up the crisis. It is an inheritance of former subsidies which the government failed to pay to the power companies, who in turn could not pay the oil and gas companies for supplies.

Add to this the fluctuating international oil prices and the failing economy_ the war against terrorism and decreasing Foreign Direct investment-worsened the problem and induced further power and imported oil shortage.

Subsequently, the political heads had to turn their eyes back to hydroelectric power generation. But the projects like Kalabagh Dam became victims of narrow mindedness and provincial prejudices which led to failure of consensus of opinion. Had the Kalabagh Dam been built on time, we would not be confronted with this crisis today.

Also the acute shortage of water; the curtailed supply in eastern rivers by India; major consumption and wastage of water in irrigation and the decreasing capacity of Mangela and Terbela Dams due to sedimentation render the hydroelectric power generation equally problematic as the thermal power generation.

Of the chronic factors, the heavy line losses plus the old and poorly maintained transmission system is a grave administrative and technical failure of public sector power companies. These line losses are comparatively very low elsewhere in the world.

Similarly, in the industrial and agricultural sectors which avail more than seventy percent of total power, the outdated techniques and malpractices of consumption waste more than a third of the consumed power.

Moreover, the masses do not remain behind in adding to this loss. The theft of electricity, especially in urban areas has become a routine matter. Due to the decades old perception that this is a never ending crisis and no accountability whatsoever, people tend to use unfair means of obtaining electric power.

Another reason is the unprecedented increase in demand of energy. It is due to the trend of enjoying luxurious life style in the past decade. This increased demand by the domestic section has greatly disturbed the usually articulated demand and consumption status.

Last but not least, snail paced research, minimal exploitation of new energy reserves and exploration of new oil and gas field damages progress in the energy sector. Couple this with the never ending corruption and lack of implementation in government and power companies this crisis has become a consistent and self perpetuating one.

Seen in this perspective, Pakistan not only needs immediate efforts to reduce the demand-supply gap but also some elaborate and well chalked out immediate, short and long term plans and efforts.

Thankfully, some sections in the society are aware of the magnanimity of this dire problem. The RPPs are expected to start working soon and the subsidies in the energy sector are still cushioning at least a part of the blow. But the real issue is of determining priorities and extracting maximum results even from this bleak scenario.

Keeping this in view, the first policy of the government should be to supply uninterrupted supply of power to the industrial units, small or big, especially in industrial cities like Faisalabad, Gujaranwala. Also the power supply should be continuous for small local businesses throughout the country.

Even if it equates to the continuation of the domestic shortage for a while, at least half of the RPPs should be employed for the industrial section. In addition, there are some non-operating power stations in the country which only require a little investment and technical improvements to revive them. Such power units should be made effective to pull the economy out of complete doom.

Secondly, the markets and shopping centers should be strictly enforced to close their business till 10 pm at night. This save power in different parts of each city can be diverted towards the domestic consumers by means of an effective administrative local system.

The media and provincial governments would be of utmost importance in this strategy. The media specially, can acquire public support and educate masses in this regard. Resultantly, they will be able to remove the trust deficit between the government and the people.

Coming on to the short term goals, the main focus should be on the revival of those dead power generation units in Sindh and Punjab which can be made functional again and the systematic up-gradation of thermal and hydroelectric plants.

Resultantly, these projects will maintain the smooth flow of energy and will at least prevent any further widening in the demand-supply gap.

Similarly, the replacement of transmission lines to reduce losses should fall under the auspices of the provincial governments and ministries with proper allocation of budget from the center. The replacement of expired transmission systems is long overdue. This process must be gradual and systematic to refrain from becoming a drain on the resources and it should be initiated from areas most severely hit by energy shortage.

After curbing and curing the internal ills, the attention should be diverted to exploration of new fossil fuel reserves (natural gas). As the thermally generated accounts for the major share of power in Pakistan, it should be dealt with effectively.

Contrary to the deficit of oil reserves, the coal reserves in Pakistan are the second largest in the world. But the delay in switching from indigenous energy sources to coal is due to the snail paced progress in the Thar Coal Project that is in collaboration with China.

China’ rocketing economy has driven coal industry into a new era of efficient utilization. Pakistan should take heed from China’s example and should gain technical assistance from it. Both countries can collaborate in Gwadar and Thar to explore and exploit new gas and coal reserves.

Coming on to the gas pipeline projects, the IRAN-PAKISTAN-INDIA (IPI) pipeline is most realistic plausible one presently. It is at an efficiently advanced stage of implementation but has fallen prey to the disagreement in pricing formulas and trust deficit between India and Pakistan.

Both the thar coal and IPI project require tactful diplomatic maneuvering and improving ties with India. An agreement between the two countries on IPI will enhance the prospects of resolving the water issue as well.

Another aspect of solving this problem is the utilization of alternate and renewable resources of energy. It has been adopted by many developing and developed countries of the country to avert this crisis, such as Brazil, India, U.S. , Holland etc. Pakistan however, lags far behind in this regard.

Consequently, some NGOs and public communities have took initiative in harnessing the renewable resources of energy such as wind and solar power. Pakistan is ideally situated to make use of both these resources.

Isolated cases of developing these modes of energy can be seen in the villages of Thar desert ( solar energy ) and in some areas of Thattha and Karachi ( wind energy ) but it still needs massive government support.

Interestingly, the Alternate Energy Development Board (AEDB) of Pakistan has collected data of all areas in the country suitable for making use of these alternate sources of energy but initiative for utilization of these sources are absent. Pakistan can very efficiently make use of its long day light hours and wind power in the coastal region to produce power for upcoming years.

Most important in the long term planning and goals must be to streamline the foreign policy of the country according to its economic and energy needs. Improving and increasing ties with future energy rich countries must not be neglected.

As mentioned earlier, China can be a great asset in technical training and facilities. Similarly, bilateral relations with Russia, Central Asian, East African states needs to be strengthened. These countries are the new energy hubs of the world, and being mostly land locked (C.A. states) can make use of Gwadar port and in return assist Pakistan as well.

Taking Provincial prejudices and politics into view, the matters which are indispensable for the survival of the country and economy should be kept above such strife. Building new dams, at least Kalabagh dam should be taken on without and delay.

Transparency and clarity in the policies and implementation methods of government and public sector power companies is of paramount importance. Without checking corruption and applying stringent measures against malpractices, all well executed policies will ultimately become another drain for the economy.

Moreover, educating the stakeholders and workers in the industrial and agricultural sectors on adoption of new and efficient practices of water and energy consumption will tend to reduce the wastage of energy.

The theft of electricity must be considered and declared a heinous crime and any violations by domestic or industrial users should be liable to legal penalties and complete power cut off for such consumers.

Taking a look at the energy crisis in the transportation sector, there is no doubt that fossil fuels are indeed depleting in the world and of reserves natural gas in Pakistan. To curb the hike in prices and supply shortage , research and exploration of new sites must be given impetus under the patronage of AEDB.

Meanwhile, bio fuel ( alcohol or synthetic fuel ) can be produced quite easily in Pakistan. Raw materials for this fuel being wheat and other cereals are in ample supply in Pakistan. Alcohol can be easily prepared by fermentation of molasses and is already a proper local industry in the country it just needs to be diverted in the right course.

Finally, the system and standard of public transport must be improved to discourage the trend of personal vehicles which leads to greater demands of fuel.

Making policies has never been the plight of our government. It is the lack of implementation which keeps the wheel of crisis moving. Today our government not only needs to take initiatives and hard decisions it also needs to give a boost to the dying economy by providing unimpeded supply of power to industries.

Secondly, corruption, misuse of funds, malpractices of energy consumption and wastage must b avoided and eradicated at all costs.

Last but not least, the public trust and support is of utmost important. No policy can succeed if it doesn’t enjoy public support. Media can play an effective role in creating awareness and trust that it is actually a global crisis which can only be solved with help and conscious effort by every citizen.

Conclusively, curbing the energy crisis requires transparent efforts at every level imaginable. The future policies and projects should be so oriented as to make Pakistan self sufficient in the energy sector. Self sufficiency in the energy sector will be the key to a flourishing economy, and a stable economy can serve as a device of curbing several interlinked adversities. The sooner we realize the gravity of this as a whole, the sooner we will emerge out of this crisis.
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